Acts 6. Out of the seven Grecian (as the Greek names of all the seven imply) superintendents of the distribution of alms, appointed in consequence of the complaints of partiality to the Hebrew Christian widows, made by the Grecians or Hellenist Christians. (See DEACON.) Philip stands in the list next Stephen, they two being prominent and the only ones noticed subsequently. He like the rest was chosen by the multitude of disciples as "full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom." Philip was among those scattered by the great persecution against the church at Jerusalem (Acts 8). Philip, breaking through Jewish anti-Samaritan prejudice, was the first to follow Jesus' steps (John 4) and His command (Acts 1:8) to preach the gospel as a witness in Samaria; so he was virtually a forerunner of Paul "the apostle of the Gentiles" in his field of labour, as Stephen was in his doctrine. Jesus had declared cf6 "the fields (in Samaria) are white already to (the spiritual) harvest." Philip (by an undesigned coincidence marking genuineness) finds it so.
"The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke (Acts 8:6) ... they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ ... were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). The Samaritans were looking for Messiah (John 4:25), which paved the way; still more the two days of Jesus' presence and the conversions which He made. John, who had called for fire from heaven to consume them, now joins with Peter in confirming them (Acts 8:14; Acts 8:17). Even Simon Magus believed and was baptized, and continued with Philip wondering at the miracles and signs which were done. By the direction of the angel of the Lord Philip went down from Jerusalem to Gaza by the less frequented way, which was the usual one for chariots. In one an Ethiopian eunuch or chamberlain of Candace, a" proselyte of righteousness" (not as Cornelius, for whose admission to Christian fellowship a special revelation was needed, a "proselyte of the gate"), was returning from worship at Jerusalem.
By the Spirit's intimation Philip joined him as he read aloud Isaiah 53, and asked "understandest thou what thou reddest?" a question always needed in reading Scripture. The eunuch replied, "how can I, except some man guide me?" (the minister's office secondarily, but the Holy Spirit's mainly: John 16:13). Jesus, Philip explains, is the Lamb led to the slaughter. "In His humiliation His judgment (i.e. legal trial) was taken away," the virtual sense of Isaiah 53:8, "He was taken away by oppression (so in Psalm 107:39) and by judgment" (not as KJV "from prison." for He was never incarcerated), i.e. by an oppressive judicial sentence; He was treated as one so mean that a fair trial was denied Him (Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55-59). "Who shall declare His generation?" i.e., who can declare the wickedness of His generation?
Philip so preached of the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus that the eunuch believed and was baptized in a stream on the way. The Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus manuscripts omit Acts 8:37, the confession of Jesus required before baptism, an early Christian usage (1 Peter 3:21 end). The Spirit then caught away Philip, as Elijah of old. At Azotus (Ashdod) and the cities along the Philistine sea coast he preached all the way to Caesarea. Here Paul was entertained by him 19 years subsequently. His title now was "evangelist" besides being "of the seven." His four daughters had the gift of prophecy or inspired teaching (Acts 21:8-9). Here Philip, who had preached to the schismatic Samaritans, the dark African, and the hostile Philistine, would hail the apostle of the Gentiles who was carrying out to its world wide consequences the work initiated by the evangelist deacon. Here too Luke during his residence would hear from his own lips the details which he records concerning Philip.
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